Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cover Shot

Each week the Sunday bulletin gives Keystone an image that adds depth to the theme of the sermon. This past Sunday the image took hold of me (Brandon) and has yet to let go. Perhaps, because it's a common scene I notice each time I head downtown. Perhaps, because I can relate. It reminds of times I have been too lost in envy to notice the opportunity to love, or the time I was broke and helpless and had to ask strangers for assistance. Whatever the reason this week's cover shot has caught me. What does it bring out for you?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nickelsville Declares State of Emergency

As this year comes to a close the Nickelsville community is looking to 2010 and what they see isn't good. The community held a press conference today at New Hope Missionary Baptist today to declare a state of emergency in 2010. The conference was well attended with supporters from local organizations and churches. The event opened with a prayer by New Hope's Pastor Jeffrey and featured speakers from SHARE, WHEEL, Real Change, and personal testimonies from Nickelodeons. Below is the statement that was shared by Nickelsville detailing the state of the emergency and what to do about it.


Four years into Seattle/King County’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, our numbers are at an all time high. Our shelters are overcrowded, noisy, at times infested with bed bugs, and often consist of little more than a mat on a floor. We have no place to store our possessions, and so must carry them with us. Pushed onto the street in the early morning hours, we are hidden from sight and forced to stay on the move. We are unwelcome in your public spaces, and are harassed by your police and private security when we stop to rest.

At least a third of us sleep outside, where we are subject to trespass and arrest. Our belongings are routintely stolen and destroyed by government workers who are “just doing their jobs.” When we camp in cars, we are targeted for citations and our vehicles are towed and impounded. When we come together to form safe, dignified communities, we are threatened with arrest and our supports are bullied with threats and fines.

We die, on average, at 48 years of age. Nine of us have died by suicide so far over 2009.

We are the working poor who have been set up to fail. Our low wages, work insecurity, lack of healthcare, overcrowded and unaffordable housing, and unreliable transportation leave us vulnerable to economic disaster.

We are the expendable, the dehumanized, the written off, and the devalued. We are the sick, the disabled, the mentally ill, and the addicted. We are the too poor, too uneducated, too old, and too unemployable to matter. We are the human wreckage of a broken system that denies its responsibility and blames us for our existence.

It shouldn’t be like this. Homeless people deserve and are entitled to the same protections as our housed brothers and sisters: a right to health and housing, freedom from violence and stereotyping, the ability to keep our families and loved ones together, and the tools to move ahead and thrive.

In 2010, worse will come. King County at the close of this year reduced human services funding by 46%. Youth shelter funding was eliminated. Food bank funding was slashed to zero at a time of record demand. The state budget crisis promises disaster. General Assistance for Unemployable, the State Housing Trust Fund, drug treatment funding, and Basic Health Care are all to be eliminated.

Our state of emergency must be recognized. The Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness is a fraud. The true causes of homelessness – rent increases, gentrification, evictions, and the failure of the market to provide affordable housing aren’t dealt with measured, or touched. For every unite of affordable housing produced under the plan, three to four have been lost to market forces.

Top leadership of the Plan has tokenized the participation of homeless people, and has fallen deaf to our pleas for safety, shelter, and community. The percentage of homeless people who are sheltered should be a plan benchmark.

We can no longer wait for the expanded survival services we need today while our “leaders” promise housing in the future.

1. EXPAND SURVIVAL SERVICES. Since the Ten Year Plan began, homelessness has grown while emergency shelter supply has held steady and funding for day centers has declined. Stop pretending and meet the need with clean, simple decent shelter.

2. SUPPORT SELF-HELP HOMELESS GROUPS (like SHARE). When we run our own shelters, we cost-effectively offer maximum dignity and community to residents. Stable city funding will help us built [sic] community-wide solutions to meet the growing need.

3. PROVIDE A PERMANENT SITE FOR NICKELSVILLE. We need a site big enough for a non-moving eco village of up to 1,000. There are over seventy sites in Seattle that will work and only one is needed.

4. COMPLETE THE HOMELESS REMEMBRANCE PROJECT to honor people who have died while homeless. The Tree of Life in Victor Steinbrueck Park and Leaves of Remembrance in sidewalks throughout the County [sic] will serve as reminders to us all that homeless lives have value.

5. STOP THE CRIMINALIZATION. Citations for trespass violations, panhandling, and sitting on sidewalks clog our courts and punish the poor with fines and jail time while denying us due process under law.

6. EXPAND TREATMENT. Drug and alcohol treatment services save lives and money. Punitive policies undermine public health goals and deepen the misery and isolation that often underlies addiction.

7. PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION. As downtown gentrification has pushed more services outside the free ride zone, access to bus transportation has become a barrier to overcoming homelessness. Homeless people should receive free bus passes.

8. SUPPORT AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Strategies to cost-effectively increase supply must be prioritized over big-ticket infrastructure projects and sports arenas. Encourage market solutions that don’t let excellent get in the way of good. We need housing. Now.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Year Gathering

Let’s celebrate Epiphany (in western churches this day commemorates the visit of the magi) with a potluck and another Holden service. All members of committees (communication, building, social justice) are encouraged to attend so that we can get our ball rolling again. So, let's eat at 6:30, meet at 7:00 or so (we can meet and eat!), and do Holden Evening prayer at 8:00 or so. It's a perfect way to end the Christmas season and begin fresh a New Year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Fresh Look at Christmas

Here is a great video clip explaining an alternative approach to the Christmas season from a group called Advent Conspiracy. Check them out at www.adventconspiracy.org

Friday, December 4, 2009

Festival of Hope

For over 30 years there has been a Festival of Hope. This year was no exception. We raised over $9000, all of it will be sent out of Keystone to aid works of compassion and justice throughout the world.

At the Festival of Hope we created a space in which goods could be bought and sold, not for our profit but so that others in distant lands could justly profit from their labors.

We created a space where people could come and donate funds so that others may have food enough to survive.

We created a space in which people could come and learn about issues of justice and participate in the work of advocacy.

If you want a glimpse of the Realm of God, we are always talking about, pause sometime at the Festival of Hope, and look around.